It's been my general observation that in most Aikido dojo the Shomenuchi strike refers to an attack that moves in a downward direction. Meaning, the striking hand (te-gatana portion of hand) would strike Nage on the top of his/her head. I've trained a little in Kendo and from what I've learned, you're right about the difference in attacks. Kendo uses different names for some of the attacks that are practiced in Aikido. I'm not sure why this is, probably to simplify the numerous names for similar attacks. I've visited probably ten or twelve different Aikido dojos over the years (not all the same style) and each one refered to the Shomenuchi strike as a downward strike to the top of Nage's head. Of course, that doesn't make it necessarily correct; perhaps just easier to remember / understand. I don't know, I'm not one to judge.
REK - I agree with your statement on the difference between redirective movements in Karate and Aikido. Timing is everything as they say.
Yea, I too see a lot of people practicing shomenuchi in the manner you describe. I'm still not sure why though. The influence of sword in Aikido technique is blatantly obvious. The difference for us I guess is that our dojo is heavliy influenced by sword work, which works out very well for those of us training in both sword and Aikido. The Aikikai "style" (I really hate using that word) utilizes footwork from sword and our main instructor, Dennis Hooker sensei has many, many years of experience in kenjutsu and Iaijutsu as well. When I have trouble understanding Aikido technique (and this happens a lot) Hooker sensei will grab a bokken or Iai and demo the origins of the movement. It all seems to come together for me when he does that. Hopefully one day, with enough training, they will become one and the same to me......as they should be.
btw, Personally, I try not to judge what other people practice as right or wrong , just different.....
Dan P. - Mongo